In a matter of days, we will have the first of three scheduled presidential debates. For as unparalleled, unprecedented and unscripted as the 2016 campaign has been, nothing can change the dynamics of race faster than a debate performance.

We have no idea of how good or bad the fireworks between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be when they take the debate stage, but we know they will memorable. The moderators for these events (probably more like whip-wielding, time-keeping lion tamers) have a huge responsibility, and if given the opportunity to be one of them, I know what questions I would like to ask them about homeland and national security.

Questions for the Nominees

  • Polls and social media show a deep divide in America. They also show that both of you have the highest recorded negative ratings of any previously polled presidential candidates with trust and truthfulness being seriously questioned. With so much negative baggage and impression, how do you propose to lead and unite the states of America?


  • Both of you have taken position on the use of military force, only to change your positions later as polls and on-the-ground circumstances have changed. How do you think these experiences will shape your decision making on military usage and force if you are the next Commander in Chief?


  • Over the past years and weeks, North Korea has fired increasingly longer range missiles and conducted unsanctioned nuclear testing raising security concerns not just for Asia-Pacific but the world. It has the most sanctions against it of any nation. How do you propose to deal with the growing and unpredictable ballistic missile and nuclear weapon threat that is North Korea?


  • Is Edward Snowden a hero and should the United States welcome him back?


  • The Defense Department reported to Congress that global climate change is a destabilizing phenomenon that will aggravate existing global problems and present a threat to national security. Do you believe in climate change and what do you propose to do about it while also ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness?


  • National security leaders have said America’s long-term debt is “the single greatest threat to our national security.” Both of you have had careers where you have spent not only your money but other people’s money as well. As President, you will be making even bigger investment decisions with taxpayer dollars. What are the 2-3 priority investments your Administration will make during your term of office? And as a follow-up: If the majority of the States are required by law to balance their budgets, why shouldn’t the federal government be obligated to do the same?


  • Mr. Trump has shared his skepticism on American security arrangements with NATO and other reciprocal military alliance agreements. These security arrangements have worked for more than 50 years. Why is there a need to call them into question and should they be renegotiated?


  • If it is determined that the Russian government, or another foreign power, has hacked into our systems to influence American elections, how will your administration respond?


  • When American forces were attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japan, it was considered then, as it is now, an “act of war.” If another foreign power were to attack our military or widely held public infrastructure (e.g., power grid, utilities, public health systems, communications infrastructure, etc.) by means of a cyberattack, would you consider it an act of war and how do you anticipate responding?


  • Now that the Defense Department has permitted women to serve in direct combat roles during U.S. military operations, shouldn’t young women also be required to register for the draft like all 18-year-old males?


  • The U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay currently holds enemy combatants captured by American forces over the past 15 years. President Obama has tried unsuccessfully to shut it down, and members of Congress have said they don’t want those prisoners on U.S. soil or in U.S. prisons. What is your plan for dealing with these prisoners and any prisoners U.S. military and intelligence services might capture in the future?

What question do you want asked at the Presidential debate?

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More
  • John M

    What is the root cause of “radical islamic terrorism” and what do you intend to do about it?